The fishing tournament, held in conjunction with the annual Grand Haven Salmon Festival, was scheduled to take place on Saturday, but rough conditions on Lake Michigan forced organizers to postpone the event to Sunday morning.
“We lost boats that could not fish today, which always happens,” said event organizer Mary Jane Belter, adding that a total of 26 boats competed in the tournament. “Our number of boats registered this year was down from previous years. We had 34 for Saturday, and then lost those that could not fish (Sunday). There are always conflicts – it was the weekend of the youth hunt, there are always other commitments – but there could be other factors. The press on the fishery in Lame Michigan hasn’t been too positive.”
The event was previously limited to just salmon, but with the slow decline of the salmon fishery in Lake Michigan, last year’s tournament included five species – Chinook and coho salmon, along with lake trout, brown trout and steelhead.
This year, the tournament’s name was changed from the Big King Contest to the Big Fish Contest.
The winning fish was landed by Mike Emery aboard “Getting There.” Local charter boat captain Mark Verurink of “Reel Action” took second with a 15.15-pound lake trout.
“Reports were that fishing was tough,” Belter said.